When I texted my friend Vanessa to ask her to come with me to Intruder Escape, neither of us knew what to expect. After a cursory perusal of their website, I told her it was an immersive horror experience-slash-game. Vanessa has a wonderful competitive spirit and is a fellow horror fan; she agreed to join me. So, a few hours later, I swung by her place to pick her up and we hit the road, heading north to Santa Clarita, jamming out to the Spotify playlist sent to me by the organizers of Intruder Escape.
Once we made it to Santa Clarita and got off the freeway, we found ourselves driving about twenty minutes into town…and then forty-five minutes away from any and all civilization.
The road to the Intruder Escape location was long, narrow, and winding, surrounded by rock cliffs and vast stretches of dusty desert. There were no street lamps and it was already dark by the time we made it to that rural stretch. At one point, both of us lost cell service. I was so glad that Vanessa had been able to go with me because I would have been totally freaked out if I had been by myself. I mean, come on: going to an event in the middle of nowhere with no way to contact anyone is a recipe for potential disaster. Driving down that road in almost total darkness felt like we were actually in a horror movie. Vanessa and I have the chops (and supplies of mace) to be Final Girls, but it’s safe to say that neither of us are particularly keen to have those chops tested.
When we finally arrived, we followed the signs to the designated parking and meeting area, up several hilly dirt roads. We were joined by about twelve other participants. Eventually, we were escorted from the parking lot to the main house by “The Butler”. The house was huge and sprawling. Foreboding, but maybe that’s just because it was so dark outside. Inside was not much brighter. The lights were dimmed to the bare minimum throughout.
We were led to the living room, where we signed waivers and wrote down our emergency contacts. Oh, and we were given a safe word. Then, we were instructed to sit in a circle on the floor. The living room was decked out in Christian paraphernalia: huge crosses and copies of the New Testament, framed photos with gospel verses on the walls. We all sat patiently, waiting for further instruction.
And then Father Ash walked in and the game began.
The premise of Intruder Escape is that we are initiates of a cult. Father Ash, who looked a bit like Jesus (and like a young, tall Charles Manson), is the leader. As initiates, we must explore the house and surrounding land (including a shed, a playground, and a chicken coop) for clues to solve riddles and win points. The game is made more challenging with the dimmed lights (it’s disorienting, okay?), vague instructions, and masked cult members luring you away and sometimes kidnapping you for minutes at a time.
Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with cults, but Intruder Escape was honestly one of the coolest and most original immersive experiences I’ve ever participated in. Everything from the location, to the sets, to the actors were perfect and completely drew me into the world of Intruder Escape. While it was fun, it was also intense and creepy. The actor who plays Father Ash is so convincing as a cult leader, I’m still not convinced that he isn’t one in his spare time.
Intruder Escape only has one more weekend in its run and tickets can be purchased here. If you’re up for a long drive to the sticks and for some psychosexual mind games, this is something you don’t want to miss.